Chopper escape module coming to KCHS

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007

To prepare offshore oil platform workers for the possibility that the helicopter taking them to work crashes into the sea, a helicopter escape simulator is being installed at Kenai Central High School.

Workers from Blazy Construction are scheduled to begin work today on an addition to the high school swimming pool to house the Modular Egress Training Simulator (METS), which is slated to arrive May 26.

Survival Systems USA Inc., of Groton, Conn., signed a contract with the Kenai Peninsula Borough on Monday making way for the 12-foot by 36-foot addition which will be built onto the back of the pool.

According to Randall Nelson, project manager for Blazy Construction, the concrete-block building will be sided to match the pool building.

In addition to the simulator building, he said Blazy will be installing a steel I-beam that the simulator will travel on as it moves from the storage building into the pool building.

During training, the simulator, which is in the shape of a helicopter fuselage, will be lowered into the Kenai pool and oil workers will learn to escape safely and make their way to the surface.

Bruce Richards, special assistant to borough Mayor John Williams, said the project is on a tight construction schedule to accommodate the training needs of Shell Offshore Inc., as it ramps up for Outer Continental Shelf drilling operations in the Beaufort Sea.

Richards said it is Shell’s company policy that all workers receive the helicopter escape training.

“They need to train 300 people right away,” Richards said.

Following the initial training, he said the facility would be used for periodic refresher training.

“If this all works out, these people will come to town, stay a couple days, and spend money on meals and lodging,” Richards said. “This is going to provide economic development locally.”

By contractual agreement, the work is being done with the school’s pool-use needs in mind.

“Survival Systems ... agrees that all construction activities shall be conducted at times and in a manner designed to minimize interference with school educational activities and pool usage,” the contract states.

Richards said the training firm will be required to pay a fee “just like anyone else using the pool.”

Nelson said Blazy will have the addition finished enough to allow the simulator to be hung when it arrives by truck from Nova Scotia on May 26.

“We’ll still be doing roofing and finishing siding,” he said. “We’ll get it done.”

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